He wraps the nails with the smallest of wires as tight as crippled hands will allow into the form of the cross of his Savior. Five hours for one cross and he wants everyone in our church to have his gift to give.

He said he made something for me as he struggled, reaching into his shirt pocket with his much too young crippling hand.  I carved this angel for you out of cedar, he said. You might can hang it in your closet. It’s not much. My hands doesn’t work so well anymore. 

And this Christmas his wife gave me a gift from him and her.  She said, he doesn’t sleep much and when he can’t sleep he carves. She said sometimes he stays up all night and carves.  And she handed me the most beautiful of snowflakes carved out of cedar–by his crippled hands. 

And I, humbled, do not deserve such beautiful gifts.

The most special of gifts wrapped in a pretty box adorned with a bow will never compared to those of love made with crippled hands and a giving heart.

Psalm 5:8, Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Bobbys Gifts

 

All scripture references are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible and photos and writings are copyright of a beautful grace.

And on this Sunday morning my pastor said, “We can’t do things for God half-heartedly.” His message from God hit hard–crushing hard on my own heart.

How many times do we give God our least. How often do we give God what is left of our time rather than the best of our time. How is it we find the moments to share about everything of this world, but don’t have the time to share His goodness. And how is we give God only a small portion, when He gave us His all. His Son–His everything.

Daniel's Design

Psalm 9:1, I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.

#rendyourheart #fourthdayoffebruary #ourwholeheart #Godisgood #Godislove

(I am very humbled to share one of my son’s designs in this post. He is a gift and I am blessed. Thank you, Daniel Miller.
And thank you Pastor Rodney Blake for your God-sent messages. You and Diane Blake are a gift to our church and to many others.)

Putting the last batch of cupcakes in the oven and in between laughs and giggles, and she looks up at me with her little mouth and nose decorated in pink icing, and she says with a heavy sigh,  ‘My heart’s trying to get angry.’

From the five-year old who loves baking and decorating cupcakes—licking the icing and sprinkles of glitter. Her countenance just moments before was of the happiest and then a sudden change—

IMG_3151

IMG_4249

And her words—I wanted to drop to my knees asking God for the right words to say.  I ask her why she was sad—why her heart was trying to get angry.  And she said, ‘I don’t know, but I don’t want it to be angry. God wouldn’t like that. God doesn’t want my heart to be angry. He wants it to be kind.’

She turned and within a matter of seconds she took her place at the table once again—not a care in the world and continued the joy of simple chocolate cupcakes and pink glitter icing and giggles and laughter and an occasional sneaking of a bite of icing.

Myself—it wasn’t for me to comfort my grand baby girl with words on this winter afternoon. The lesson from God was never meant for her. It was meant for me.

And there’s this cleansing—a needed cleansing of the heart even a child understands.

Psalms 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

All scripture references are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible and photos and writings are copyright of a beautful grace.

 

 

Verse of the day.  On this beautiful Sabbath morning.

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Salt ornaments hearts

#rendyourheart #sabbath #seconddayoffebruary #worshipinGodshousethisSunday #thedoorisopen #hisheart

 

Through God’s help and much prayer, I will be sharing “Rend Your Heart” weekly and daily devotionals and Bible verses during the month of February.  I pray the devotionals and Bible verses will bless you in a small way and challenge you to rend your heart.  You can follow along with the blog by signing up for daily emails on the home page of a beautiful grace or follow on a beautiful grace Facebook page. 

To God be all the praise and glory. 

 

I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. Psalm 9:1 

 

All scripture references are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible and photos and writings are copyright of a beautful grace.

Rend your heart

And we wake up to the first day of another month.  It’s February and it’s all about hearts and love–everywhere.

Throughout the Holy Bible (KJV) the word heart is mentioned 884 times–the first being early in the book of Genesis.  And sadly–within six chapters of God’s story–man and woman broke God’s heart.  His own creation–made in His image–created for friendship–for love and that love broke God’s heart.

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. Genesis 6:5-6

FullSizeRender (1)

 

And the story continues and in the next verse of the chapter, God plans to destroy all His creation–everything.  But there was one man who changed God’s plan.  One man.

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:8

The prophet Joel wrote,  “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteh him of the evil.” Joel 2:13

In the Old Testament the rending of garments was a sign of a broken heart, mourning, sadness.  But Joel challenges us to rend our hearts, break them open wide and allow God to come into our hearts–give God our whole heart and receive His grace, His mercy, His kindness.  Like Noah did. There are no perfect hearts–Noah’s heart was certainly not perfect, but his heart was open to God’s love and the willingness to listen and obey God’s word–His plan. That is all God asked from us–an open heart. No matter how many holes–how many scars–how many cracks–how many breaks–He asks for our hearts. And He’ll take care of the rest.

IMG_9617

So this heart month–the one month of the year when hearts are seen in abundance, let’s challenge ourselves to rend our own hearts.  Break down the walls–open our hearts to loving others as God loved us–pray that God will allow us to see more deeply the need and hurt of others and act upon those needs.  And more than anything, love Him as He loves us–with a fullness of our hearts.

Reading the story of the creation of God–at the end of each day–the verse ends, “And God saw that it was good.”  Until the sixth day–the last day before He rested and on this day, he made man and woman and it was good–very good, “And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31

And after Adam and Eve sinned and hid from God–broke God’s heart–God never turned His heart away from them.  He did the opposite. He came seeking them in the garden.  And even though there were consequences for their sins, troubles and trials–God never closed His heart on them. He continued to care and provide and love.

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.  Genesis 3:21

70289221_10215762853926842_6256858174414913536_n

 

Through God’s help and much prayer, I will be sharing “Rend Your Heart” weekly and daily Bible verses and devotionals during the month of February.  I pray the daily and weekly Bible verses and devotionals will bless you in a small way and challenge you to rend your heart.  You can follow along with the blog by signing up for daily emails on the home page of a beautiful grace or follow on a beautiful grace Facebook page. 

To God be all the praise and glory. 

 

I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. Psalm 9:1 

 

All scripture references are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible and photos and writings are copyright of a beautful grace.

Open doors

A few weeks ago my family and I went to one of our favorite restaurants and there’s always bathroom time with the littles–well most of us for that matter.   And as my grand son and I got closer to the restroom area we noticed the door to one of the bathrooms was off the hinges–off the hinges–off the frame and propped up against the wall.  He said, ‘wow Granna look at that door. Somebody needs to fix that so it will open and close again.’

Barn doors

I’ve thought about that door a lot–about open doors.

I’ve been praying for God to open a certain door for awhile now.   

And with the New Year’s resolutions, goals, visions–open doors–new doors are sometimes at the top of many of our lists. 

But what if those doors are there for the opening–each and every day–and we fail to see them. Does it take a door completely busted–resting against a wall for us to even notice?  

And yeah, I’ve seen and read, ‘Wait in the hallway until God opens the door’ or something like that.  I believe that is true. Very true.

In the stillness.  With patience. We should wait on Him.  But maybe, if we’re completely honest–maybe there have been times we’ve left Him in the hallway.  We don’t see. And He’s waiting for us to hear His voice.  Waiting for us to see the grace and glory of His open door.

Revelation 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Old House

barn

And there were Mary and Joseph still in Bethlehem with God’s child and the Wise Men appeared at their door.  Knocking.  And bravely–they opened the door.  God had sent these men with treasures that could be sold for supplies for the long journey ahead.  The fleeing for safety journey that Mary and Joseph knew nothing of until after the Wisemen went on their way and the angel appeared unto Joseph.

Matthew 2: 11-14,  (KJV) And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

The hearing of the knock always has a choice.  Do we hear and walk away? Do we choose to listen and open the door? Like Mary and Joseph. And the decision is also ours to have the faith to walk up to the door and knock. Like the Wisemen.

No matter whether we answer the door at the sound of His voice or ask in truth-faith believing and knock–Jesus will be on the other side.  For He is the door and His door will always be opened wide with grace.

John 10:9, (KJV) I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Matthew 7:7, (KJV) Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 

 

 

 

He had a sign on the front of his old work truck and it said Native American.  I called him Willie.  He was short with a long gray ponytail and he looked like Willie Nelson.  And for a few short months he worked on a construction site of the business where I worked.  I asked him if was a Native American–an Indian and his voice grew softer and he said, ‘Part.  My Grandmother was a full-blooded Sioux.

Sunsets

his-coming-beach

My Daddy often stopped by where I worked during his lunch or in between factories and on this day Willie happened to be working inside the building and I introduced Daddy to Willie.

Daddy reached out his hand to shake Willie’s hand and he said, ‘You don’t want to shake my hand–it’s dirty.’  And my Daddy, his hand stood firm in mid-air and said, ‘That don’t bother me.’

Willie, he then stroked his hand on his worn blue jeans, trying to clean the dirt away and reached for Daddy’s hand. And the handshake, it was the union of two men much more alike than they realized–

And we all look back on memories and wish the moment would have lasted a little longer.

_DSC0003

_DSC0509

What Willie didn’t know was my Daddy worked in some kind of maintenance work and electrical work all his life.  My Daddy’s hands–they never looked clean even though water ran through his fingers and cracks of hard work, daily.  His hands were rough, dry, chapped, strong.  

I miss watching my Daddy relate to people such as Willie.

Days later Willie walked in my office carrying a gift. ‘I brought you something.  It’s not much. You can hang it on your mirror in your car or you may not even want it.’

And he handed me this necklace with leather and orange, yellow, red, brown and white beads.  ‘The long white ones, those aren’t beads–those are porcupine quills  and my Grandmother made this.’

IMG_3640

Weeks passed and the construction done and Willie, he moved on to another construction site and I never saw or talked with him again.  And sadly, I don’t remember his real name.

The necklace–I did hang it on my car mirror and it rode along with me for many miles over the years until the quills grew weak and began to break.

And in a few days we will celebrate the holiday of gratitude.  Of giving thanks.  This reaching out to others.   Seeing two dirty hands gripped together in a bond that may only come around once.  The holding on to the treasure of a grandmother who with worn hands and fingers intricately weaved this gift–and then to reach deep and give it away.  

The hands on the clock are spinning.  Clouds are rolling in and there’s these acts of kindness in our lives that may seem to last for only a brief moment of our time. And we wish for just a second we could go back to only cling to the memory a litle tighter. 

And His grace, it comes in the smallest of gifts.  

 

Oil for my lamp

I haven’t thought too much about the old oil lamp that used to sit on top of the dresser in my Grandpa and Grandma’s bedroom.    The clear glass lamp was always filled with red oil–ready to be lit along with just enough wick to light a flame.

Me and my brothers, we would sometimes get in trouble if we messed with the lamp.  Our Grandma was afraid we may break it and get cut. And our Grandpa, he yelled at us because we would sneak and roll the wick up too high.

Since our Grandparents died, the lamp has been resting in my kitchen for years, the base filled with potpourri.  I washed the lamp a few weeks ago–the roller rusted with age. And I removed the potpourri and placed it back on the shelf.

And the emptiness of the lamp was just what it was—empty.

Oil Lamp.jpg

Oil Lamp 2.jpg

Many years ago I was serving in my church as the Sunday School teacher for the four and five year old class. And it was my Sunday to teach.  Lesson number 16–The Parable of the Ten Virgins.  I was a little hesitant–no, I was A LOT hesitant about teaching this lesson.  I wanted to call the other teacher and tell her we were skipping lesson number 16 and move on to the next one.  I wondered how the children would react when the wise virgins wouldn’t share their oil with the foolish ones among other questions  But not once did they question God’s story.

Never once have I had one child ask me how God makes rainbows…how all of the animals fit on the ark…how Jonah survived in the belly of the fish…or how a rock could kill a giant.  Children are like that–they believe with a much larger faith. 

It’s been a while since I read the scriptures written in lesson number 16.  And maybe it’s because the hollow of the lamp and the lack of oil and the lack of the wick that I have been thinking hard about the ten wise and the ten foolish.

Oil Lamp 4.jpg

And really, thinking back…why would the children even ask about the sharing… the parable has nothing to do with the sharing of the oil.  It’s the diligent faith. The watching.  The waiting.  The preparing for the coming of the Lamp.   And five were ready and five were not.  

For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.  

2 Samuel 22:29 

And with a kindness only found in the local hardware store where wood floors sing old songs–he said, ‘may I help you find something?’ 

‘Yes, please.  I need a new wick and oil for my lamp.’

And the flame in the old lamp still burns bright and warm after all these years, and the bitter wind whispers in the dark, winter’s coming.  And the glory of the Lamp–it will never dull or grow dim for the path will always be lit by His flame.

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. Matthew 25:13

Oil Lamp 3.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

He sits on the corner near the newly planted city street tree.  And his dog is draped on his lap like a warm pillow—a place to lay his weary head—his troubles.  The busy of the people, they’re carrying their five-dollar cups of coffee and he, he bows his head leaning closer to the warm of his companion.

And this bus ride seems to go on forever—ten hours is a long time when you are yearning for home.  Cornfields are waiting patiently, ready for harvest.  Clouds are rising from the valley and a flock of birds pepper the roof of a weathered black barn with green trim.

_DSC0270.jpg

Windmill .jpg

He stood on his tip toes to see his great-grandmother as her body laid in her earthly casket.  He rubbed his face trying to hide the sad. And we all know the heart of a child is smaller in size, but that doesn’t mean the break is any less filled with hurt.  And their tears may not be as many, but that doesn’t mean they’re not as heavy.

The anniversary card with the red rose and the words written, I love you was the card he chose as he stood alone in the sea of greeting cards.  His feeble hand trembled as he opened the card to read the message inside.

How is it that tears can come so fast from an overflowing of the heart? And why is it that on some of our hardest days God places our footsteps in the paths of blessings?

But the thing about these footsteps—the seeing with our eyes—the tears that flow straight from an overwhelmed heart—grasping a blessing by reaching out to others in need— There are only so many moments that God will allow these in our lives—

And when we stop seeing, when we stop feeling, when we stop reaching out in love and giving—we stop living.

_DSC0239

I heard a Christian author speak these words. She said, ‘I don’t want to stand before Jesus one day knowing I could have done something and I let fear or my choice to remain silent be my excuse.’

James wrote, Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (James 4:14,KJV)

Peter wrote, For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: (1 Peter 1:24, KJV).

And the psalmist David wrote, So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90:12).

71056244_10215961392650186_3620327392356073472_n

The choir sings loud Sweet Beulah Land and her great-grandson sits quietly between his Mama and Grandpa–his tiny hand cleans the water from his face. The lyrics in the song, although I have heard it a thousand times, it’s like I am hearing it for the first time, “For time won’t matter anymore.”  And the pastor spoke of her 60 years of service to their church and held up the Bible she had given to him many years ago.  He said she was like that.  Giving.  She was always giving small gifts to others.

 

70289221_10215762853926842_6256858174414913536_n

I reach for my phone to read there is a wreck up ahead on the road we are traveling—a fatality has already been reported—someone’s husband, grandpa, daddy, son.  I tell the bus driver of the detour.

Tomorrow may not come, but today is still here. And what we do today is what matters—not what we plan to do tomorrow.  Because a life worth any kind of living can never be lived fully without the outpouring of giving.

And sunset comes. The old barns along the side of the road adorned with their worn tin roofs—wearing their age with grace, they disappear into the darkness.  And with every mile we are aging.

All photos are copyright of author and A Beautiful Grace

 

 

 

 

 

Giving in the quiet

He or she…I have never seen their face.  But this person they drive in and out of my neighborhood in the early morning–delivering newspapers.  And on more mornings than not, I stand at my kitchen window waiting for the last drip of caffeine to splash dark in my cup.  The cup that looks like sunshine–the cup my dear friend gave me.  The cup that says “A friend loves at all times”, Proverbs 17:17.  

IMG_2897

_DSC0715

The delivery person, he or she, they slow and honestly I thought the person was trying to avoid the neighbors’ dogs who like to think they are more the speed control dogs–no one can go too fast with them guarding the road–barking.   But this 4-wheel drive, the dogs treat it a little different–less harsh,  never barking or darting out in front of it.

What is this delivery person doing, I thought. And then I watch as the vehicle comes to a complete stop.  The window rolls down, a hand reaches low and the two dogs—they walk away with dog treats.  And I have not witnessed this just one time, but on several different occasions.  This act of kindness, of giving. 

IMG_8673

Sunflower Seeds

They said we do this every Saturday morning.  The Topsail Island Sea Turtle Patrol. Every nest along the beach–every Saturday morning.  They secure the posts–clean the runway–rake away any trash or obstacle that could hinder a baby turtle from reaching the ocean.

Turtle eggs take anywhere from 45-90 days for the babies to hatch.  That’s as much as 13 Saturdays of time given. And the closer to the time of the hatching of the eggs these givers, they camp out at dusk every evening and they wait for the babies to dig their way out of the sand and make their way home to the sea.

The members of the Patrol, they give.

IMG_2529

IMG_2532

IMG_2531

These quiet givers. They see a need, a place where they can make a difference and they give.  And this doesn’t just happen on beaches or on rural roads.  These silent givers give to our children at schools, on school buses, to our sick and hurting in hospitals, rest homes, churches….

And there are no trophies or fanfare for these givers. No plague on a wall or buildings named in their honor. No public applause. There is only the sound of quiet–of selfless surrender.  

The changing of the season is near and fall is upon us.  The leaves on the trees have shined their brightest, the deepest of greens, and soon many will dance their slow descent before their skin can transcend into orange and reds and purples.

And on this evening there’s this lone leaf slowly spinning in the air and I cup my hands reaching and it twirls away from me landing softly on the ground and there on the green grass lies this heart.  The heart, it reminds me of the faceless and nameless, the givers who reach out their hands and hearts in kindness and expect nothing in return.  

And God, the greatest of all givers–with His gentle breath, in the quietness–He gives.  

IMG_2794

He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not his mouth.  Isaiah 53:7

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: